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The Tripartite Attack on Syria: “Mission Accomplished” or “A Tale Told by an Idiot, Full of Sound and Fury Signifying Nothing?” – Part Three – Washington’s plan to partition Syria is still alive and well.

May 16, 2018

May 15, 2018. Citizens and Syrian Army militants celebrating the liberation of villages in the Hama-Homs region of Syria from ISIS-al Nusra like forces.

It was back in nineteen forty-two,
I was a member of a good platoon.
We were on maneuvers in Louisiana,
One night by the light of the moon.
The captain told us to ford a river,
That’s how it all begun.
We were — knee deep in the Big Muddy,
But the big fool said to push on.

“Waste Deep in the Big Muddy” by Pete Seeger

Part Three: Interview continued. (Among other points, this section deals with Robert Ford’s testimony before the House Foreign Relations Committee on February 8, 2018)

Part One

Part Two

Here we talk about Robert Ford’s recent testimony before the House Foreign Relations Committee where he makes the comparison, interestingly enough, with Vietnam. Because it doesn’t play well in Washington to openly admit that the United States lost in Syria, he doesn’t use terms like “defeat,” or “we lost” but basically his whole argument is “We (the U.S.) lost in Syria, what should be done now?” – Rob Prince

Rob Prince (continued): There are several other points here

1. The United States, Britain and France, without any consultation with the U.N. Security Council, are attempting to establish a new international order in which the United Nations is sidelined. With people like Pompeo, Bolton and Nikki Haley advising Trump, diplomacy has essentially gone out the window. Haley’s statement “We’re locked and loaded” sums up the Trump approach.

– Although they suggest – or are meant to suggest – American strength, such statements are not so much a sign of American strength but increasing American global weakness. That it has to continually rely on playing the military card – ie. bombing and killing people – rather than using diplomacy or economic negotiations.

2. One more point here, thinking about this bombing (the U.S.-French-British April 13, 2018 bombing of Syria) my thoughts wandered back to the end of the Vietnam War. The war had ended, the last U.S. marines were withdrawn from the U.S. embassy in Saigon by helicopter – as humiliating and vivid sign of the American defeat in that war as can be imagined.

About a month later, the Ford Administration gives a great deal of publicity to what should have been – and was – a minor incident, referred to as the Mayaguez Incident. It entailed a merchant ship, the Mayaguez, that was seized by the Cambodian military, a minor incident that could have easily been resolved diplomatically. Instead the incident was made into a big military operation. What was curious about the whole affair was that it took place a month after the Vietnam war had ended.

So here’s the point – it will segway into the (Robert) Ford article – where the United States had lost the war in Vietnam, the world power had been humiliated. In order to prove that the U.S. was still a mighty military force, that they could strike whenever and wherever they wanted, making a mountain out of a mole hill, Washington launched a major military operation to retrieve the ship from the Cambodians.

And then again, when the United States recommences operations of outright military intervention in foreign countries, they target the great superpower of Grenada.

Jim Nelson: During the early Reagan years (1983).

Rob Prince: Having said this recent missile attack against Syria is essentially an updated Middle Eastern, Syrian version of the Mayaquez Incident.

Here we talk about Robert Ford’s recent testimony before the House Foreign Relations Committee where he makes the comparison, interestingly enough, with Vietnam. Because it doesn’t play well in Washington to openly admit that the United States lost in Syria, he doesn’t use terms like “defeat,” or “we lost” but basically his whole argument is “We (the U.S.) lost in Syria, what should be done now?”

I just wanted to add those points to the above discussion.

Ibrahim Kazerooni: But here is the challenge and I believe that the Iranian, Syrian and some of the Lebanese newspapers have been addressing this issue. They generally agree with you that these kind of bombings are not going to shift the balance of power in the region; the balance of power has shifted [away from the United States and its allies]. In his previous testimony before the same committee, Ambassador Ford clearly stated – I read it and I watched the film – that when we (the U.S.) embarked upon the effort to overthrow Assad and partition Syria that we did not anticipate the Russians, Iranians and Hezbollah getting involved. With their participation, technically the United States had lost the war in Syria. He clearly indicated that United States has lost the war in Syria.

In fact he went so far as to argue that the United States had lost the war but also it no longer maintains the initiative to be able to influence the balance of power in the region. This is the foregone conclusion for people like Ford, who was the last U.S. ambassador to Syria. Ford’s statements, then and now, clearly state that the United States is no longer in a position to change the balance of power in the region…no matter how many times they bomb.

Even the Israelis have admitted the fact that slowly but surely the central government in Syria of Bashar al Assad is gaining ground and taking control of large areas of the country. Two years ago the central government controlled 50-60% of the territory; now they maintain their authority over 80-85% of Syrian geography. In this situation, Washington is not in a position to change anything to their liking.

If this is the case, what, then is the reason behind this recent missile attack on Syria. My own point of view is that we are beginning to hear a new kind of narrative coming out of the United States and the neo-conservative element now driving U.S. Middle East policy once again. It goes something like this: in the current situation Washington should help the terrorist organizations, the mercenaries in the south of Syria to proclaim a self-independent state bordering Syria, Israel (occupied Golan Heights).

There was a related report that the military base in Tanef, at the point where the borders of Syria, Iraq and Jordan meet where the Americans have established a military base. The plan was from that corner to East Gouta is only 85 miles to launch an offensive when push comes to shove a battalion of American marines would push from Tanef into East Gouta, join up with the ISIS mercenaries and lead them straight towards Damascus. – Ibrahim Kazerooni

This why the United States is so angry because that possibility was completely destroyed.

Rob Prince: Such an approach fits nicely with Robert Ford’s comments. Let’s turn to Robert Ford. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Ford, Robert Ford has been a major player in U.S. Middle East developments.

Jim Nelson: He’s been mentioned several times on previous programs.

Rob Prince: Yes. He actually grew up in Denver. He’s back here every once in a while, trying to work the conservative elements in the Front Range Arab Community here, as he does all over the country.

He’s a former U.S. Ambassador to Algeria, Iraq and Syria. But prior to his time in the Middle East, Robert Ford cut his diplomatic teeth in Central America, in El Salvador where he was mentored and worked under John Negreponte, who had an important hand in the creation of right-wing paramilitary death squads there. Ford will then use that Central American experience in Iraq and Syria to do more of the same.

To refer to Robert Ford as “a diplomat” is an overstatement. This is an insidious person who in many ways tried to coordinate the rebel and terrorist groups. Whom he actually is answering to in Washington is not clear. In any case, he’s no longer ambassador (to Syria) but he remains an important spokesperson concerning U.S. Syria policy connected in someway to the most right-wing, neo-con elements in Washington and we see him coming up again and again, pushing his agenda.

On February 7 (2018) he spoke before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, two months ago, that is prior to the April 13 bombing, but in a sense in some ways he is more honest about U.S. policy than what appears in the media here. The reason to quote him, or take seriously what he says is because he is one of the few voices that gives a less filtered view of U.S. Syria policy. He has openly commented, repeatedly, that “We (the U.S.) lost the war in Syria – not the Saudis, not the Qataris, the Emirates or Turkey. It is the United States that lost the war in Syria. Washington managed the whole thing and we lost.

These were the main points of his testimony which I found very interesting.

He starts by taking a traditional position: he overstates the U.S. role in defeating ISIS (and like entities). Actually the United States had very little to do with it. They were defeated primarily by the Syrians supported by the Iranians, Russians and Hezbollah of Lebanon. As Ibrahim mentioned, in some of his earlier testimonies, Ford admitted as much.

Then he accepts the fact that the attempt to overthrow the Assad government has failed and that the partition of Syria, which is really at the heart of U.S. policy. So much of the media focus here in the U.S. is on the personality of Bechar al Assad – is he ‘a good guy, is he a bad guy’ and so little focus has been on the program Washington has articulated for Syria. The program of the United States in Syria has been and remains, to partition Syria along lines similar to what was done in Iraq and Libya, ie, either a de facto or de jure partition.

That program has failed, although Washington has not given up on it. Ford also accepts the fact that there is a new balance of power in the region and for the first time in a very long time, it’s not so much that the United States is isolated, but that Washington and Tel Aviv can no longer call all the shots the way that they have been able to for so long.

Finally, and this is I believe the main reason that he testified, Ford admits what Ibrahim and I have been arguing over the past few years, that the Trump Administration has no clear Syria strategy. It doesn’t have any. Ibrahim and I have been reflecting upon some of the recent military actions undertaken by Washington in Syria.

– Take for example East Gouta. No question it was a bloody battle. What was going on there that was overlooked by the mainstream media and others, including some people on the left and in the peace movement here in the United States: East Gouta was an ISIS stronghold that included a serious of complex and sophisticated tunnels under the town, some so big that tanks and armored vehicles could be lodged and move around within them.

El Gouta is not far from Damascus. Basically, having lost most of the rest of the country what ISIS and hits handlers were thinking was to launch a kind of last-ditch effort surprise attach to capture Damascus.

Ibrahim Kazerooni: Rob, there was a related report that the military base in Tanef, at the point where the borders of Syria, Iraq and Jordan meet where the Americans have established a military base. The plan was from that corner to East Gouta is only 85 miles to launch an offensive when push comes to shove a battalion of American marines would push from Tanef into East Gouta, join up with the ISIS mercenaries and lead them straight towards Damascus.

This why the United States is so angry because that possibility was completely destroyed.

Rob Prince: Yes. Getting back to the Ford interview, the rest of his remarks concentrates on
considerations of an area east of the Euphrates River where there are 2000 American troops.

Ibrhaim Kazerooni: About those troops, the Turks have “spilled the beans” admitting that the United States has nine military bases in that area.

Rob Prince: Nine bases? Hmmm. That makes it pretty clear that what Ford is arguing here gives an accurate picture of current U.S. moves. What are they? First of all that the United States has no plans to withdraw troops from Syria; they are staying. Ford goes on to speak of the need to build in that area an independent security force made up of Syrians in that area.

What is Ford actually indicating by these remarks?

He’s basically repackaging what has been U.S. Syria policy since 2012, and probably prior to that: – the continued implementation of the Doha Protocols Program, essentially a plan to partition Syria.

Even at this late date, its allies having been defeated militarily in most of Syria, Washington has not given up on the plan to partition Syria. It’s still on the table. Whether it comes from the zone in Southern Syria near the Israeli, Jordanian border, or from the area the U.S. military controls east of the Euphrates River, the United States is still working overtime to partition Syria. That is the essence of Robert Ford’s testimony.

Postscript:

(Note: Events in the Middle East since this April 24 radio interview have moved with great speed over the past three weeks. Since the interview, Trump has withdrawn the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (known colloquially – and incorrectly – as “the Iran Nuclear Deal.” In the immediate aftermath of that announcement Israel bombed Iranian positions in Syria. When Iran responded by bombing the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, Israel launched one of the largest air strikes in Syria since the 1967 Middle East war. At the same time there have been two generally under-reported elections in Lebanon and Iraq, under-reported because the results did not please either Washington or Riyadh. Finally a few days ago, the Trump Administration formally moved the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Palestinians in Gaza have been peacefully protesting for six weeks on Fridays. In what amounts to unprovoked slaughter – Israel has killed more than 100 Gaza Palestinians protesting at the Gaza barrier fence and wounded now more than 10,000 Palestinians. Of those some 60 were killed two days ago protesting the Jerusalem embassy move, the blockade of Gaza and insisting on their right to return to the homes they were forced from in 1948 when Israel was created. 

All this will be covered in our next KGNU – Hemispheres – Middle East Dialogues on Tuesday, May 22 at KGNU Boulder (www.kgnu.org streaming, 88.5 FM, 13:90 am) from 6-7 pm Mountain Standard time). What follows below is the third installment of the April 24 interview, which analyzed the April 13, 2018 tripartite (U.S., U.K., French) bombing of Syria.)

One Comment leave one →
  1. Bill Conklin permalink
    May 16, 2018 12:16 pm

    Thanks for the analysis, if Washington and Tel Aviv can’t have their way in Syria, how does that affect the continuing hegemony of the Red White and Blue Zionists in the Middle East?

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